TL;DR – When Daikichi discovers that his deceased grandfather has left behind an illegitimate daughter, he is thrown out of his bachelor life comfort zone and learns about a greater purpose in life (i.e. taking care of a child) and the challenges and rewards that comes with that responsibility.
Review (warning: spoilers)
Imagine you have a stable job, currently single, and you hit thirty without quite knowing where all the time went. Your life is not entirely fulfilling but you are also not unhappy with where you are and what you are doing. There is a simplicity to your life that is not bad, even though every now and then there is that little niggle that you want to do something more.
Now, imagine you receive the news that your grandfather passes away. You attend the funeral and return to the family home to pay your respects only to discover a six-year old girl who is being shunned by the rest of the family. You initially have no idea who this girl is or why she is being looked like some sort of blight, but you soon discover that she is the illegitimate child of your grandfather. The family debates who will look after the child (seen as a constant reminder of the shame your grandfather has brought onto the family), yet you realise it is not the girl’s fault that she was born. Why should she be ostracised when her very existence was beyond her control? Do you take the step and be this girl’s guardian and parent?
This is what confronts Daikichi Kawachi in this delightful, funny, emotionally touching anime series Usagi Drop. When Daikichi takes that step (much to the surprise of his other family members), he knows he does not have the faintest clue of what it means to be a parent.
The little girl, Rin, embraces the kindness shown by Daikichi and starts living with him. The series showing the day-to-day interactions between the pair with both hilarious and poignant results. What makes this work is how Daikichi evolves from an individual who only thinks of himself to an individual who has a loving, nurturing parent-child relationship with Rin. The way the anime conveys Daikichi seeing through the eyes of a child and thus learning from Rin (as much as Rin learns from Daikichi) is marvelous.
Whether it is the simple act of holding hands, buying Rin clothes, and making onigiri rice balls, or dealing with the more challenging situations such as Daikichi juggling work with life, Rin entering elementary school, and wetting the bed due to her fear of death, these are all examined in thoughtful ways that will connect the viewer to this story.
If you have a heart of stone then this anime will not be for you. For everyone else, it is pure magic.
10 out of 10